tv MSNBC Live With Kate Snow MSNBC April 11, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
the president about tensions in pacific climbing by the day. we will wait for secretary mattis and set the stage for you. an anxietior at yahoo news and finance. let me start with you. we had the briefing from the white house and expecting secretary mattis about a half hour from now. give us what we learned from sean spicer on the two fronts, particularly syria. a lot of talk about that. >> there is a lot of discussion surrounding that coming out of the press secretary's briefing. a lot of headlines walking up to the line of russian awareness of the chemical weapons and not crossing it. there was no consensus about what russia may have known. russia is on an island and using the colorful phrase, a happy
time cocktail party to describe russia and iran and syria here, arguing that russia needs to be delivering a message and they will not continue to stand with him. as was raised, that comes after years of russia working with the syrian regime in syria. what would make putin change his mind now? what pressure are they prepared to put on moscow. as the secretary of state is holding the crucial face-to-face meeting. not at least and it's a headline in and of itself. >> thank you. stand by if you will. let me spich ywitch over to bily in moscow. russia is essentially on an island right now, but vladimir putin compared the accusations about chemical weapons in syria
to the justification to go to worry in iraq. give us the perspective from moscow. >> they are pickingp what we first heard about the special un security emergency meeting on syria. when the russian ambassador said look, we heard these before. colin powell with his beautiful photograph and accused iraq of having and weapons of mass destruction. the russian was saying you, nikki haley, are sitting there in exactly the same seat and saying the same thing now about syria. it's 2003 all over again. interestingly, he said that russia is going to carry out an independent investigation of that chemical weapons attack.
more startlingly, he said that russia had evidence or information that another chemical weapons attack was being planned in damascus in order to once again put the blame on president assad. he didn't say who was planning the attack or who the sources were. tough talk for vladimir putin and tough talk from rex still tillerson into the crucial meeting tomorrow morning. >> right. bill, thank you. stand by. secretary tillerson in moscow. we are not clear whether he is meeting directly, but at the very least with the foreign minster. our two countries are in the worst period since the cold war. what do you make of relations. >> if there is in fact a syria
approach. is there a syria policy from the standpoint. by all indications, russia is not happy with assad. these are the chemical weapons. there could b a situation where russia is testing the u.s. to see how far it goes. both parties are saying we are talking about a regime change. there is no name people are discussing as a possible successor. he is not going anywhere today, tomorrow, or the near future. what is the in the region. they invested a lot of truth as well and if it's the only naval base outside of russia. >> that's a critical base for them. i want to bring this up and i hesitate, but something sean spicer said is going viral and everybody is talking about it. the comparison made to nazi germany. you top the explain that? >> right.
comparing in the press briefing, kate. assad to hitler. i don't know if you have the sound ready to run. i don't want to put words in his mouth. hear it from him directly. >> using chemical weapons in world war ii, you had someone as despicable as hitler who didn't think to use chemical weapons. >> he didn't even think to the level of using chemical weapons? >> in the way assad used them. he dropped them down into the middle of town. the use of it, i appreciate the clarification. that was not the intent. >> there is a statement out, kate snow, from sean spicer. there was a request to clarify that clarification. i will read this to you now. we have a new statement. that we can draw up, but we have a new statement that is just
sent out to all of the reporters here. sean spicer saying in no way was i trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the holocaust, but trying to talk about the population sector. that is a statement that sean spicer is now adding any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable. when asked about whether it was a prepared talking point between assad and hitler, the press secretary responded to nbc news that was off the cuff remark and raises questions. the overall messaging on syria and when you look at the big picture, that was working with the questions in large part that came in in addition the nature of the comments themselves. >> okay. thank you for bringing up that statement that we just received to nbc bus. let me go back to you.
with rex tillerson there in the region, what pressure can the u.s. put on the russian government. how much leverage do they have right now. >> i have to say this is a problem that is all very well to say russia is an island. russia is isolated. we are talking about the syrian war in which the key and most effective players are russia's assad forces, iran, and the lebanese militia that followed. i do understand what shaup spear is saying in those terms, but the fact is that this is the coalition. that is winning the war in syria and russia will be disinclined to drop assad who is winning that war. he took aleppo and had control of all the major cities.
russia just doubled down after the missile strike on its support for president assad by saying we will bolster your air defense system. really the leverage that the united states has is minimal. of course, kate, there are a lot of other issues on the table. they will discuss syria. it will loom large. it will discuss ukraine, north korea and possibly sanctions against russia. that was going to be top of the agenda a few months ago and behind all of this, it's the better relations with russia. there is a bigger picture here. within syria, the united states has not a great deal of leverage and not involved in the peace talks going on unsuccessfully in
geneva. >> you brought it up that needs to be discussed between tillerson and officials. you have been in north korea who has been there. lester hold was nearby. you have been in the north recently. that country said threatening things as we know for a very long time. this is a critical moment. even then the military exercises, they did take place a couple of times a year. the ones that were scheduled in april and they see those as a huge provocation. it is true on the last occasion
and the decapitation of the north korean regime. it is an existential threat. threatening as they have done to you use new care weapons. u.s. officials do not believe that and the nuclear weapon on the rocket that they have at the moment to reach the continental united states. there is concern that they could fire weapons that could reach troops in korea. no question that the rhetoric that is always very strong from pyongyang. seems just to be getting hotter and hotter. >>or that front on north korea, we heard the president weigh in on that. he did it on twitter. i want to remind the audience we are waiting for the press
briefing. what did the president tweet about north korea today? >> let's pull it up. we got the press secretary to respond to this as well a couple of times inside the white house here. you can see the tweets from president trump saying sentllat if china decides to help that would be great, if not we will solve the problem without them. usa. saying i explained to the president that a trade deal will be far better for them if they solve the north korean problem. what did he mean by that? does that mean military action or sanctions? the press secretary did what we have seen them do in the past. potential action against another country. the president made clear he wants it to be a surprise. i am paraphrasing here, but the indication is he did not top the telegraph future action he might take to preserve that element of
surprise. it is still a question mark and the president appeared to be tying the issue of trade and security on the korean peninsula, all of it as the navy is now sending the strike force to japan close to the peninsula that he intended to send a message and to beijing as well. >> let me go back to the meetings that will be happening with secretary of state rex tillerson. bill did outline some of this and i wanted to break down the issues that are complex in the relationship between russia and the u.s. right now. obviously syria. secretary tillerson made it clear this administration does not support assad's regime. especially after what happened last week. hacking. they called on russia to end the foreign relations and that undermines their relationship with the united states.
ukraine as bill mentioned, tillerson insisted that the sanctions will not be lifted unless putin puts an end to the a necation of crimea. that won't be received well it's fair to assume. >> that are is fair to assume. there is a report today that in meetings with his g-7 counterpar counterparts, they asked why should u.s. citizens and americans care about the sanctions and that raised a lot of eyebrows throughout the region and ukraine in particular. there are contentions from both sides. when it comes to the cyber attacks, we heard from vladimir putin. russia has nothing to do with thebe cyr attacks. it's interesting and it seems to be that russia is following along the lines of president trump's talking points. one of the spokes people said
the other day when it am comes to the u.s. accusing russia of aiding the syrians in these chemical attacks, president trump was listening to so-called fake news. they are taking our and the president's talking points and using them to their advantage and it will be interesting to see how far they will test the u.s. when it comes to syria as well. the u.s. is in fact talking about regime change, russia will say have at it. do you want to add thousands of troops? who would you replace assad with? they say you see what happens when you do use chemical weapons? we will not punish you even though we don't like that you did that. they can bomb you the way they did. >> stay with us if you will. i want to go to jack jacobs who joined me on the set. we didn't know we were going to be hearing from the defense secretary. it should be about 15 minutes from now. this is his first big briefing
before the cameras at this moment of international unrest in a lot of places. is the timing coincidence? >> i don't believe in coincidence in this environment. >> what do you think we will hear from him? >> it's difficult to say initially. the requesty is to what extent will he weigh in and russia and north korea on the other hand. he is probably going to walk a fine line because he wants to give tillerson as much room as possible. with respect to syria in particular, this is a very, very difficult thing for the defens department. the defense department only uses the military instrument of power.
there are marines in there right now. not many. >> not so that the military can affect the ark of what is taking place on the ground. we have to keep in mind what it is the russians are after. that's the only place where they have got it. strategically, they don't care about assad. what they are interested in is warm water ports on the mediterranean. if you look at the map and see the black sea can't get out and into the atlantic. they don't have any warm water ports and can't get out to the mediterranean or atlantic.
they need syria. it doesn't matter whether assad runs syria or anyone else runs syria. however if we can get together with russia to solve the syrian problem and make a decision on who is going run syria, there is one clinker that we can't effect. doesn't care about warm water ports. iran is in a different battle. they are aligned in propping up assad, but at the end of the day, we satisfy this russian requirement, we still have to deal with iran and they don't yield easily to strategic notions of national security. >> so many that are so complex. >>o we still think about 10 or 13 minutes from now? >> that's what we are thinking,
but stiemsma reometimetiemsmomr early. he has been to the right of president trump. we saw that at one of the first briefings he did in brussels. to the right of the president talk about how there wasn't the ability to cooperate with the russians. the russians were somehow involved on that chemical weapons attack of april 4th. they provide a fair amount of circumstantial evidence. whether or not mattis says and accuses russia of being behind or in any way involved is a key threshold and a key trigger to listen for. it's an open press conference and chances and opportunity to ask about north korea and what plans have been presented by the president and national security council to the president's national security council about a decapitation program for kim
jung un. we are getting the head with four stars on his shoulders. >> the region that we are here and the entire region based in tampa. he is the 1 that is in charge and a in a lot of way took responsibility for the yemen raid. they will be interested to see what happens as much as that. >> have they given you any guidance whether it's syria that they came to talk about or north korea or a universal briefing or set the stage for us. he hasn't done this before. what do we expect? >> what he has done is press conferences when he travels which are two and two. they take a couple of questions and whatever foreign secretary of dense he iswith, they will
have questions. we expect to be mostly syria-dominated, but it's an open press conference and there are no rules. >> unlimited until he gets tired. we might have a longer conference than a couple of questions. >> also joining us is michael mcfall. i love to ask you about this and let's start with syria. what do you think mattis might be -- it's obviously -- not obviously, but it seems intentional that he would deliver a press briefing given that tillererson is in russia. >> we will see if he meets with president putin. the way they can help him is to tell the facts and remember the russians don't believe it. there was no chemical weapons and spelling out precisely what
we know with the best intelligence that we can declassify that would help tillerson as he moves into his meeting and second, talking about our attack. to remind the viewers. the russian news has been reporting that half of the tomahawk missiles missed their target and this was a failure and they are showing footage of planes taking off and showing warehouses where the alleged chemical weapons were stored that are empty. the more details that would help in his meeting with the russians. >> and if i can go back to hans for a moment, he is not with us anymore. jack is sitting next to me. hans was mentions that north korea may come up too. just to understand the military side of this, there is the uss carl vincent that has been move and they are getting closer and closer to the peninsula.
>> there are a lot of ships. >> what are they with the koreans? >> the variables with the troops on the ground, within the military zone, we have tens of thousands of american troops combat troops and support troops. >> within striking distance? >> oh, yeah. the north doesn't have to use nuclear weapons to attack the troops there. they can use conventional weapons and hit a lot of installations. don't forget that the capital of south korea, seoul, is just miles from the militarized zone. all american troops and all south korean troops are at risk. they are not very big. they are at risk from north korea. if they were to attack i any way, they atta for the first time and the war that started in 1950 is not yet over legally.
we had a ceasefire and not an armestice. we had tens of thousands of american troops at risk. if anything for the military. >> people are talking about april 15th as kind of a potentially magic date for north korea. do you know whens that? it's an anniversary and i don't know if that is being celebrated. i think 100 years. >> i think you are right about that. that's a promise that many other administrations and democratic and i hope before we continue to make promises that are very difficult to carry out that we have a game plan and a strategy and i hope hans was intimating that this is an open press
conference and i hope secretary mattis will talk about it. it's a tweet about something that no other president has been able to solve. that was the verb used by the president. what is the strategy for achieving that objective? this is a complicated problem that can't be solved by tough talk and a tweet. >> the comment, nothing can be accomplished anywhere on the korean peninsula and particularly with respect to north korea without the assistance of china. they are the independent variable and without them we can't accomplish anything. >> colonel jack jacobs and mike mcfall along with a cast of thousands. we had bill nealy and hans nichols at the pentagon and halle jack at the white house. i think i got everybody. thank you so much for being with us and waiting with us. we expect the defense secretary james mattis to speak at the
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>>. >> thanks to kate snow, we are back. this is live coverage as we countdown the minutes to go to that disk. a recent tradition for the secretary of defense along with usually one of the armed services to brief the news media. the case today we will hear from secretary mattis about the cruise missile strike we witnessed in syria. among the guests waiting to talk to us is retired u.s. army four-star general barry mccaffrey out in seattle. general, am i correct in guessing this will be a kind of bda and can you explain the term to our audience and limit it in
scope? >> that's interesting. i don't know. upon damage assessment, secretary mattis is going to address the efficacy of the purpose of military operations against the syrians. i think he will make a strong case. it was an immediate zero risk and appropriate strike against the chemical forces that were carried out. that part is easy. what is the administration concept and the strategy moving forward do you have if you bring down assad, does it move into switzerland and revenge? those are questions without 0s. syria is never going to be a whole country. people will ask about north korea and if the president said he will solve the problem, are you contemplating the preemptive
attack? it would be a disaster for the me ninsula and the japanesouth koreans. >> for our audience since we are about to see them, can you give us the thumb nail sketch of both of them having known them both? >> no spent like a lot of his generation, he is one of the most magnificent soldiers we have produced. zero ego and quiet gentlemenly fellow and he spent his entire career in combat. he know whathe is doing and it's a reassuring factor. mattis is charismatic and a once in a generation marine. the armed forces worships the
guy. he is a military intellectual and easy to deal with and will not break the law. the united states can trust him with our 2.2 million men and women of the armed forces. these are two high caliber people. >> you concur with most people who have been watching that mattis was probably the finest early cabinet choice. >> there were flaky characters out there in the wings for a variety of jobs and by and large i think most of the senior people that president trump has selected are pretty solid characters and mattis is extraordinary. the department of security is one of the finest people i met in my life. there are stable, experienced
good judgment people and the national security apparatus is in the white house. we had another stable intellectual who will obey the law. >> we are within the two minute warning and we are very happy you will be able to listen and interpret with us. watching and listening is retired army colonel jack jacobs. what is your 30 second preview? >> it's interesting that they mention the backgrounds of the offices and what they constitute is the adult supervision in washington. the irony is people spend their in combat and a lot of them with special operations. they ironically will be the voices of restraint.
they will try to keep from doing anything stupid. the combat is any time since world war ii. >> we have been in combat since all these people have been commissioned. definitely since the end of the war in vietnam. >> here's the secretary and the general. >> the briefing we are joined by secretary of defense jim mattis and the commander of u.s. central command in tampa, florida. we will start with opening remarks and proceed to your questions. we are planning to go for around 30 minutes. with that, mr. secretary? >> thank you, steve. we are on right now? >> we are live. >> good afternoon, ladies and
gentlemen. i previously released a statement on the u.s. military's response to the syrian regime's use of chemical weapons. i thought this was an appropriate time now for the general and me to update you on the action itself. last tuesday on the 4th of april, the syrian regime attacked its own people using chemical weapons. i have personally reviewed the intelligence and there is no doubt the syrian regime is responsible for the decision to atcknd for the attack itself. in response toth attack our government began a deliberate process led by the national security council to recommend diplomatic and militarying optio options to the president. i spoke with are our allies. the national security council considered the international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons.
the syrian regime's repeated violations of that international law and the inexplicably ruthless murders the regime had committed. we determined that a measured military response could best deter the regime from doing this again. as always we examined how best to avoid civilian casualties in the execution of the strike and our actions were successful. based on these considerations on 6 april, the president directed military action consistent with the vital national interest to deter the use of chemical weapons. this military action demonstrates the united states will not passively stand by while assad ignores international law and employs chemical weapons he declared destroyed. we were aware of the presence of russians at the air field and took appropriate actions to ensure no russians were injured
in the attack. our military policy in syria has not changed. our priority remains the defeat of isis. isis represents a clear and present danger and iedia threat to europe and ultimately a threat to the united states homeland. in closing, the syrian regime should think long and hard before it acts so recklessly in violation of international law against the use of chemical weapons. the general will provide further information on the strike. >> thank you, mr. secretary. secretary mattis stated the united states central command was directed to develop military options and response to the syrian regime's use of chemical weapons. we did that and developed a package to eliminate the capabilities including air frames and development that provided offensive military capacity for the regime from the air field. we did not deliberately target
personnel on the strikes. when the order was received, we targeted the 59 locations and struck 57 of those. we assess that we achieved our stated objective and the regime's ability to generate offensive capabilities from the air field which we assessed was the launching point for this chemical attack has beeny severely degraded. we are paying close attention to the environment and respond as necessary. meanwhile we are focused on the defeat isis campaign. in closing, i want to commend the exceptional skill and professionalism of forces involved in the strike operation. they performed extraordinarily well and we are very, very proud of them. >> thank you, general. we can take your questions now. >> bob, let's start with yours. >> thank you. you mentioned defeating isis in syria is your main priority, but in light of the chemical attack,
is it your view that they take additional steps such as creating safe zones or no-fly zones or removing assad from power and the general if you can bring us up to date for sending additional troops to syria. >> bob, the goal right now in syria and the military campaign is focused on accomplishing that by breaking isis and destroying isis in syria. this was a separate issue that arose in the midst of the campaign. the use by the ass regime of chemical weapons and we addressed that militarily and the rest of the campaign stays on track as it was before assad's violation. >> in doing safe zones? >> those other issues that you bring up are always under
consideration among allies. certainly the president has options, but right now the purpose of this attack was singular against the chemical weapons use. >> for the question you directed to me, i would say i'm not going to particularly comment on anything we might do in the future and remain engaged with the department here and on the way forward. we will let the leadership make the decisions here and act accordingly. >> barbara? >> mr. secretary, you said they should think long and hard about doing this again. it seems like you are sending him a very direct military message. what message are you sending to assad about this do you feel -- what message are you sending and why do you feel he chose to do this not until the trump administration took
office? did he read the signal from officials that isis was no longer the top priority? it might be the priority, but regime change was not. are you sending him a new signal? for you, general, you talk about isis remaining a priority, but how prepared is central command to take on additional military targeting? do you feel you know even if you can't say where the chemical weapons are at this point? >> barbara, we believe that assad used chemical weapons several times over the last several years. violated the international law that prohibited their use since 1925. syria is a sig tori to that convention. for them to have done this several times recently over the last is several years is what i mean by recently. you have to ask him why he chose
to try to again. i trust he regrets it now and the damage done to his air force. when i say he should think long and hard about it, i will let them speak for themselves. >> the secretary -- >> i'm not going to speculate. i remain confident and the ability to respond. >> what measures they were taking for the new intense environment to ensure protections on the ground in syria. secretary mattis, how is what you are doing militarily fit
into broader stry? how does the strike and the positioning of u.s.-backed forces on the ground help in a broader strategic sense. >> the broader strategy is embedded it's inside a global strategy and the americans are making very clear that isis is in our cross hairs and that's what our climbed after the campaign in syria is taking. this other effort that came up in the midst had to be addressed because it addresses a vital national interest that bars the chemical weapons not be used and the bar not get lowered by the assad regime so this is common place. we had to make a very, very
clear statement on this. >> we executed the measures to make sure all of our coalition forces that are operating with us were well protected and well aware of what's going on. we had prudent measures in place what we have done is trusted the commanders on the ground with the authority and the decision making capabilities to resume operations as they assess the environment. i remain confident in their ability to do that. >> anything additional you can say you have done differently? >> i don't think we have done anything differently than we had done in the past. >> there have been mixed mess
arn ages about whether you are calling for regime change. are you callfor assad to step aside and are you prepared if he stepped aside tomorrow? have you seen evidence that the iranians were involved in this chemical attack and any evidence that assad is moving his chemical stockpiles around within syria? >> jennifer, the strike we are talking about here today was directed at the people who planned it. held on to the weapons. the reason for the strike was that alone. >> jennifer, i'm unaware of information regarding iran's participation on this.
i think we have seen some information that the regime has aircraft around and i imagine there is some movement taking place. i don't think i would comment on that. >> i want to know if you think russia had advanced knowledge of the strike and if russia should be complicit in this strike. it was clear that they planned it and executed it. beyond that and we know what i told you. we don't know anything beyond that. >> this on friday at the time of the attack, a drone was flying over and they are not sure.
was it determined. >> we have looked at all the evidence and it is clear who planned and authorized and conducted the attack itself. that we do know. no doubt whatsoever. >> secretary, can you help us understand why the death of innocent men, women, and children from a chemical weapon with a u.s. military response with far more men, women, and children from conventional weapons did not warrant a military response. >> what we have to look at here is a policy decision by the united states.
there is a limit i think to what we can do and when you look at this chemical attack, we knew we could not stand passive on this. it was not a statement that we could enter full-fledged, full bore into the most complex civil war on the planet at this time. so the intent was to stop the cycle of violence into an area. even in world war ii, chemical weapons were not used on battlefields. even in the korean war, they were not used on battlefields. since world war i, there has been an international convention on this. to stand idly by, that is what we had to take action on in our own vital interest.
>> we were expecting a plan this spring and does this delay that in any way and what are your thoughts on finding a way to both the isis war and what should happen in syria with the rest of the campaign that they have been asking for? this has to be a methodical way where we look at each element of it. secretary tillerson had 60 to 68 nations in town with his counterparts. this is not the united states working alone. this is one we will have to
address in a methodical manner and not something you can simply add water to a dehydrated plan. this is hard work and will take time. >> i would just add part of the question here, i think the campaign plan remains where we thought it would be at this point. we are engaged in very difficult fighting where we expected to be at this time. we anticipated the fighting would be difficult and that's what we are seeing. again, that's a timeline on this. i think this is proceeding about the way we expected them at this point. >> mr. secretary, if i can talk about north korea. in the coming weekhey are coming to teimony later this
month. has tension ratcheted up in the last few days and can you explain it would change and mattis mentioned with assad's something more specific? >> i can answer the question, you answered about my answer if you wish. we have -- of course we've soon chlorine, it's been documented by independent medical authorities. they've been using chemical weapons. those are correct, that's what we're looking at. as far as -- >> nothing -- no other nuclear agents -- nerve agents besides this one attack? >> i believe you're correct but this time it was not chlorine. quite clearly and we know that for certain. there's no doubt this is a medical fact. as far as the movement of the vinson, she's stationed there in the western pacific for a reason. she operates freely ep anne down
the pacific and she's just on her way up there because that's where we thought it was most prudent to have her at this time. there's not a specific demand signal or specific reason why we're sending her up there. >> it's just unusual for us to know about a ship movement in advance. that's what got echb's attention. why was it put out in advance? was it just to signal to north korea that there would be a show of presence there? >> i believe it's because she was originally headed in one direction for an exercise and we canceled our role on that exercise and that's what became public. we had to explain why she wasn't in that exercise. >> yeah, here. >> thank you, secretary mattis, i wanted to ask about the status of the cdeconfliction line, wha has it meant for coalition pilots, are they in a more
defensive posture? >> i'm not going to discuss the line in any particular detail. but i would emphasize i remain confident that we are continuing to operate in a very safe and effective manner and the decon fliks line has been useful for us in the past for professional airmen to airmen exchange and it was useful for us on the night of the strike both in our prenotification to the russians and the communication we had afterwards. >> are we not talking about the deconfliction line because it's not being used at present? >> that's not what i'm saying. >> the operation goes on, well deconflicted and the operations are going safely right now. >> you're a student of history and strategy. you've talked about red lines and president has talked about red lines and russians have talked about red lines. at what point is there danger of this spiraling out of control and conflict between two nuclear power countries? >> i don't believe i've talked
about red lines. i generally shy away from it myself. i recommend assad be rather cautious about violating international law with chemical weapons, i suppose that could be considered a red line. it will not spiral out of town. secretary of state tillerson is in moscow and we maintained communications with the russian military and with the diplomatic channels. it will not spiral out of control. >> what gives you that assurance, the russians have been clear on your rrhetoric. the russians are saying another response like the one you launched on april 6th would be a red line for them. how are you so confident this isn't going to spiral out of control? >> i'm confident the russians will act in their own best interest and there's nothing in their best interest to say they want this situation to go out of control. >> yes, ma'am. >> as you consider the u.s. force posture after isis is
defeated in mosul and raqqa, are you contemplating maintaining u.s. bases or u.s. base in iraqi kurdistan to check any further resurgence of an isis like group? >> the short answer is we are in consultations with the iraqi government about what the stabilation phase looks like. there have been no decisions, no offers made either way. we're in consultation and talking about what the tactical situation will probably look like and you can tell that some of that would be assumptions since we have an active enemy still in the euphrates river valley and of course the ongoing fight there in west moes you'su will be premature to come to conclusions or enter into the specifics until we have this enemy on the run out of there
but we would be willing to engage with the iraq government on how this should look in the future. >> yes, go ahead. >> has the white house given the military authority to preempt e preemptively strike at syria if in fact you had knowledge of a looming chemical attack? then i have a north korea question -- >> no. >> you have not been given authority to preemptively attack if you know in advance of a syrian attack? >> no, we have not. >> thank you, mr. secretary. does the u.s. view chlorine barrel bombs filled with chlorine now as chemical weapon? the second question, going back to north korea, are there any feasible or straight forward mill friday actions that the u.s. could take that wouldn't immediately spiral into a broader regional conflict? >> i don't want to speculate about north korea military actions.
we owe some confidentiality as we discussed with allies this situation that we face up there. but as far as barrel bombs with chlorine, chemical weapons are chemical weaps. so that is the issue if you're talking about the strike we took. it's not about whether it's delivered with an artillery shell or delivered by a helicopter with a barrel bomb or fighter aircraft with a bomb. it's about chemical weapons and we've made clear where we stand on that. president trump has made it exceedingly clear where the united states stands on that sort of malfeasance. >> you guys have lots of questions here today. young lady, you've been very patient the whole time. >> thank you, mr. secretary. i was hoping you can clarify something in your statement yesterday you said the cruise missile strikes took out 20% of syria's operational aircraft. there was some confusion over that statement. can you clarify it and explain
how much of a blow it was to syria's overall capability? and general, we're in the process of isolating raqqa right now, does the coalition and our partnered forces have what they need to begin the offensive on raqqa and what more do they need. >> it's been worn down by years of combat plus significant maintenance problems. we thought it was -- i thought it was about 20%. i think it's around 20 aircraft were taken out which probably equates to about that, although i probably shouldn't use the 20%. we're trying to provide information as it comes in and this is one of the challenges of trying to get it accurate and get it out as quickly as we can give you fidelity. it's around 20 aircraft and that damage to the syrian air force is pretty severe as you can tell. >> with respect to what's going on in raqqa, we have the
capabilities to do what we're doing right now, the isolation and i think we're seeing that play out every day. right now as our partners -- isolate this particular area as we move forward. obviously the secretary and i and others are in consultation here on what the additional resources we need and i'll leave it at that. talk about what we need. >> then you call for the -- >> we'll go with -- >> mr. secretary, i wanted to clarify something you said earlier, an important point. is it your contention that chemical weapons if it's a barrel bomb holding chlorine, chemical weapons being that with a use of a nerve agent that is a chlorine in a barrel bomb would not necessarily -- it is the use much a nerve agent, that's the distinction you're making? i want to make sure i understand the point you were making earlier. >> i want to say very clearly, that the use of chemical weapons contrary to the geneva
convention that syria signed up for using chemical weapons that syria agreed under u.n. pressure to remove from their arsenal, those chemical weapons that the russians certified were gone, that if they use chemical weapons, they are going to pay a very, very stiff price. >> okay. thanks very much, ladies and gentlemen. appreciate your time here and i guess waiting this afternoon to talk. thank you very much. >> that last thing that general mattis said, if they use chemical weapons they will pay a very high price, without using the word red or line, that is a red line. and that is going to be apparently the view of this administration. certainly of the department of defense. a very interesting briefing, opening statements by both secretary mattis and general
votel, let's say this at the outset, you saw in action a superb press corps that covers the pentagon. they are most if not all of them experts in the field. you also saw the secretary calling on all of the journalists, most of them on a first name basis. they spends a lot of concentrated time in those hallways and a lot around the country and around the world covering our military. medal of honor recipient, u.s. army colonel jack jacobs has been watching here with us in the studio. what stood out to you? >> there are four things that came immediately to mind. the first was a question about no fly zones and safe zones. and he said no, we're not going to do that the reason he said that because you can't do that without the assistance of the russians. they are there, the iranians are there. they are not going to be any safe zones or no fly zones unless there's an agreement between us and the